A sampling from the failed Simla Conference discussions. The exchanges on parity between unequal groups reveal the respective League and Congress points of view about India's constitutional future.
[The first and second meeting of the Simla Conference, 5 May 1946, at which the powers of the Union were discussed at CMP(8A)].
Record of sixth Meeting of Second
Simla Conference held on Saturday, 11 May 1946 at 3 pm.
The Secretary of State said that the Delegation had understood that the Congress and the Muslim League had agreed in principle to the proposition that outstanding points of difference should be settled by an umpire and that they were going to meet privately to discuss the matter. They hoped that agreement had been reached on this basis.
Mr. Jinnah said that it was not the case that there had been any agreement. He had said that he would consider this proposal. He had met Pandit Nehru and had consulted his colleagues.
The result of his examination of the proposal was that if there was to be arbitration there must be terms of reference. The first question which would arise was the question of the partition of India. The Muslim League regarded this as settled by the verdict of the Muslims at the election. It was inconceivable that a matter of this sort should ever be the subject of arbitration. If there were a decision against partition the arbitrator would decide the Union Constitution. There would be no means of enforcing the arbitrator's decisions and difficulties would arise over the selection of a single person to arbitrate.
The Secretary of State said that at the last meeting he had read out a list of points which he understood to be agreed subject to agreement on the whole picture when it was complete.
Mr. Jinnah said that he had agreed to nothing- no single point had been agreed upon. All he had said was that if Congress would agree to Groups of Provinces as desired by the Muslim League he would seriously consider a Union. He had not dissented to what the Secretary of State had said because before he had been asked to speak Pandit Nehru had made his proposal. He was sorry if this had led to misunderstanding.
Pandit Nehru said that his suggestion was that there should be discussions between representatives of each side who would agree beforehand on an arbitrator who would decide on points of difference which could not be resolved by discussion. The Congress considered that the arbitrator should not be an Englishman, a Hindu, a Muslim or a Sikh. They had drawn up a list of impartial persons, some of them judges and some of them from the international field. There were many ways of arranging arbitration but in view of Mr. Jinnah's attitude the question did not arise.
Mr. Jinnah said that if anything at all were agreed there might be some question of arbitration. Until the Muslim League knew there would be Groups of Provinces and what Provinces would be in them, they could not consider arbitration. (This is where the Conference should have ended)* [*this comment is evidently Lord Wavell's].
The Secretary of State said that he understood it to be complementarily agreed on one hand that there should be Groups and on the other that there should be a Union. Mr. Jinnah said that he could not agree to an arbitrator deciding on the question of the sovereignty of Pakistan. Subject to the whole picture, he was willing to agree to the sovereignty of Pakistan being delegated to a Union for the three subjects providing a Sovereign Pakistan was recognised in the form of a Group. He was prepared to consider arbitration on other points when he knew what they were.
Pandit Nehru said that this meant coming to an agreement on fundamentals. Congress and the Muslim League were completely opposed on the question of partition or otherwise. For Mr. Jinnah the Groups were the essence of the proposal. Congress thought that a strong centre was essential and that it should have subjects additional to the three, including currency, customs and planning. They had not agreed to the imposition of Groups or to their having Legislatures or Executives. They were prepared to have arbitration on these issues.
Mr. Jinnah said that the Muslim League conception was that there would be two Groups of Provinces. These would be Federations which would confederate. If there were no Executives or Legislatures in the Groups, the Union would be formed of Provinces and of States and the whole conception would be destroyed.
Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan said that the Muslim proposal was that some Provinces, which would be named, would have their own Constitution-making Body which would make a constitution for the Group and for the Provinces within it. Afterwards any Province which did not like the constitution could opt out. This was fundamental and must be outside arbitration.
Mr. Jinnah said that on other matters the Muslim League could not agree to arbitration outright, but would do their best to agree to it if possible.
Pandit Nehru said that the least the Congress could agree to was a Union centre with the three subjects and have the right to raise its own revenue by direct taxation. Currency and planning must also be central although the latter was in a large sense advisory. Congress were agreeable to Provinces exercising their autonomy to form Groups with the right to opt out of a Group.
Mr. Jinnah said that they could not agree to more than three subjects at the centre and the method of financing the Union must be left open to the Constituent Assembly. The character of the Groups could not go to arbitration. The arbitrator might decide that there would be no Executives or Legislatures and in effect there would then be no Groups.
Pandit Nehru said that the real point was whether the Group should function as a Government with an Executive or as a more informal association. Congress considered that three layers of Governments would not be a workable arrangement but they could not prevent Provinces having the right to come together.
Sir Stafford Cripps suggested that named Provinces might form a Constitution-making Body for the Group, subject to option out after the constitution had been framed.
Mr. Jinnah agreed that there could be option out. The two Group Constitution-making bodies would then, on his proposal, meet together for the purpose of framing a Union constitution. If there were difficulties between the two Constitution-making bodies a stage would have been reached at which arbitration might be possible.
Pandit Nehru said that a Constitution-making Body could not be bound to decisions by arbitration. If it was a large enough body it was likely to reach a decision. He asked whether arbitration had been ruled out by Mr. Jinnah at the present stage.
Mr. Jinnah said that the first thing was that the Provinces must be grouped. This was not to be the subject of arbitration. The two Group Constitution-making Bodies would then meet, of course, on the basis of parity. They would not decide as one body. The provision in paragraph (H)* of the suggested points for agreement was too vague. A communal issue will cover almost anything or nothing according as how it was defined.
Pandit Nehru said on Mr. Jinnah's proposal no constitution for the Union would ever be framed. He wished to make it clear that the Congress would not accept the States being represented in the Constitution-making Body or in the Legislature by the Princes' nominees, nor would they accept the States as a third Group. The Congress did not agree to parity in the Central Legislature. Provision could be made to safeguard the rights of a community without parity which would give rise to trouble. If the constitution did not reflect realities of the situation it would be unstable and produce a state of bitterness and frustration. The Congress were entirely opposed to the Groups being sovereign bodies. They were prepared however for the question of Legislatures and Executives for the Groups to be put to arbitration. They would agree to safeguards on the lines of Clause(H)* in the Union Constitution.
The Muslim League representatives said that they would require parity of representation in the Union constitution. There were many important issues besides communal issues and there were precedents for equal representation of unequal parts in a federation.
The Conference then discussed whether
there was anything further that could be done in the hope of securing
agreement. It was agreed that Mr. Jinnah would put down in writing the
precise conditions on which the Muslim League would be prepared to
negotiate further. The Congress agreed to prepare proposals of their
own in an endeavour to find common ground. A further meeting would be
held on Sunday evening at 6 p.m to consider whether these two
statements of the positions of the Parties provided a basis for further
discussion or not. [See CMP(2) for the two statements.]
CMP(1) - From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'
CMP(2) - Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946
CMP(3) - The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946
CMP(4) - Jinnah and ML responses to the CMP 22 May and June 6 1946
CMP(5) - Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946
CMP(6) - Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946
CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946
CMP(7) - The Congress unease with parity 8-9 May 1946
CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946
CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union
CMP(8) - More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting 11 May 1946
CMP(9) - Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946
CMP(10) - Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946
CMP(11) - Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946
CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946
CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946
CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946
CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946
CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946
CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action, July-August 1946
CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946
CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946
CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946
CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947
CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell
CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947
CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946
CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947
CMP (18) - My take
CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?
CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material
CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947
CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan
Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan
Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942
Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940
Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45
Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan
Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'
Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931
Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928
Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38
Extra(5) - BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947
Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947
Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43
Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah
Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory
Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies
Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth
Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937
Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43
Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh
Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab
Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto
Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter
Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit
1937-1940(2) Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert
1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar
1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad
1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh
1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh
1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page
1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher
Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers
Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States
Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments
1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila
1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)